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Popular phone plans aren't the smartest choice: study

Australia's most popular mobile plan price point of $59 has the highest incidences of bill shock and are feeding the country's annual $557 million bill shock, according to a study by Macquarie University and amaysim.

The Anatomy of Bill Shock -- An Analysis of Mobile Phone User Experience in Australia 2012 study, which analysed more than 200 Australain mobile phone bills, showed that people on plans around this price were just as exposed to bill shock as those who sign up for plans with lower monthly headline rates.

It also found the average amount of bill shock across all mobile phone bills was $28 -- half of the most popular $59 plan price point, suggesting that many Aussies are spending 50 per cent more per month than expected.

The highest average bill shock was incurred by those on $129 plans ($155.58 bill shock on average), followed by $59 plans ($34.58 bill shock), $60 plans ($24.40 bill shock), then $49 plans ($16.84 bill shock).

Amaysim founder and CEO, Rolf Hansen, said this round of research proves using more expensive plans as a mobile safety blanket doesn't prevent bill shock.

"The popularity of mid-priced 'included value' plans would make you think they're the best bet for consumers. Even though these plans are advertised heavily by telcos and selected by consumers for budget management, they don't reflect the reality of what people are forking out each month," he said.

Other findings from the study include:

  • Standard call charges caused the biggest bill shock, $43.12 on average. This was followed by excess data charges ($22.18) and international calls ($21.20).
  • Data charges caused 43 per cent of all total occurrences of bill shock, followed by standard national calls (24 per cent) and standard SMS (24 per cent).
  • The average mobile phone bill was $72.99.
  • Bill shock affected 40 per cent of those on mobile phone contracts.
  • Females have a higher average incidence of bill shock compared to males (55 per cent female to 45 per cent male)
  • The highest incidence of bill shock by age was the 25-39 age group (36.3 per cent), followed by 40-49 (26.3 per cent), then 60-64 (21.3 per cent).

"We think Aussies are catching onto this. You don't have to break the bank to get what you want out of a mobile plan. That said, there's still a lot of work to do to get through to the rest of the country," Hansen added.


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